• The Admissibility of Qarinah in Malaysia

    THE ADMISSIBILITY OF QARINAH IN MALAYSIA

    Admissibility of Qarinah in Malaysia – In the oft-cited case of Sunny Ang v Public Prosecutor [1966] 2 MLJ 195, the accused person was charged for committing the murder of his girlfriend; Jenny. Interestingly, the prosecutor had successfully proven its case, wholly based on circumstantial evidence as there was no direct evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. That particular case made history as it was the first case in Malaysia to convict a person for murder by relying solely on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence or qarinah is also recognised as a means of proof under the Islamic law of evidence. According to Ahmad Fathi Bahansi in his book; Nazariyyah Al-Ithbat, as cited in Mahmud Saedon A. Othman’s An Introduction to Islamic Law of Evidence, qarinah literally means “together, accompany or related”.

     

    An example of the recognition of qarinah in the Qur’an can be traced in Surah Yusuf, verse 18, whereby Allah says:

    They stained his shirt with false blood. He said: “Nay, but your minds have made up a tale (that may pass) with you. (For me) patience is most fitting: Against that which you assert, it is Allah (alone) whose help can be sought…”

     

    In the above-cited verse, the connection of it with the issue of qarinah can be discernible by the fact that despite the shirt being stained with “blood”, it was not torn as it should have been, if Prophet Yusuf was really devoured by wolves as falsely claimed by his brothers to Prophet Ya’qub. The condition of the shirt being intact was a qarinah to signify that Prophet Yusuf was still alive at that time, as stated by ‘Abdul Kareem Zaidan, in his work; Nizam al-Qada Fi Al-Syari’ah Al-Islamiyyah, as per cited in An Introduction to Islamic Law of Evidence.

     

    Meanwhile, the technical definition of qarinah in the Malaysian context can be found in the Syariah Court Evidence (Federal Territories) Act 1997, whereby its section 3 provides that qarinah means:

    fact connected with the other fact in any of the ways referred to in this Act”.

    The whole Chapter 2 of the Act, in fact, is dedicated for qarinah. Thus, facts to be regarded as qarinah according to the Act, can be determined by studying Chapter 2 of the Act. Nevertheless, what are listed under the Chapter are not exhaustive as when there is lacunae in the Act, the Court shall apply hukum syara’ as stated in section 130(2) of the Act.

     

    It is however undeniable, that a better understanding of this topic would be attainable by observing how the Malaysian Syariah Courts apply this concept through the decided cases. Hence, in order to know the admissibility of qarinah in Malaysia, this discussion would be divided into two categories: hudud and non-hudud cases.

     

    HUDUD CASES (with ta’zir punishment)

    Syurb al-Khamar (Consumption of Intoxicants)

    The case of Pendakwa Syarie Kelantan v. Yusundy bin Josan & Anor (1994) JH 206 would be of good reference. In this case, the two accused persons were charged for drinking intoxicants under section 25 of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code. As elaborated in Hamid Jusoh’s Islamic Law of Evidence: Sources and Its Applicability with Special Reference to the Practice in Malaysia and Pakistan, Volume 2, Chapter 2, in this case, the Court had considered the smell/ breath odour of the accused persons as qarinah for drinking liquor. There were other qarinah as well to prove the prosecution’s case which were:

    1. The bottles of liquor that were taken out were in the possession of the accused persons;
    2. The accused persons used glasses containing the liquor from the recovered bottles;
    3. The receipt of purchase of the said bottles were also in the possession of the accused.

     

    This strong circumstantial evidence was regarded as admissible by the Court to convict the accused persons for the commission of the offence. However, it is important to note that despite the actual nature of this offence being that of a hudud offence in Islam, as Malaysia is yet to enforce hudud punishment, the accused were only liable for ta’zir punishment i.e. 6 months imprisonment and 6 strokes of whipping for each accused person.

     

    Zina (Adultery)

    Pregnancy out of wedlock is a kind of qarinah that has been accepted in Malaysia to prove an offence of zina with ta’zir punishment. The legal provision that can be referred to is section 23(3) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territory) Act 1997, whereby:

    the fact that a woman is pregnant out of wedlock as a result of sexual intercourse performed with her consent shall be prima facie evidence of the commission of an offence under subsection (2) by that woman”. Whereas, subsection (4) reads as follows: “For the purpose of subsection (3), any woman who gives birth to a fully developed child within a period of six qamariah months from the date of her marriage shall be deemed to have been pregnant out of wedlock.

    These two provisions portray that pregnancy out of wedlock is generally regarded as qarinah in proving a case of zina which is liable for the accused to be convicted with a ta’zir punishment.

     

    A local case to refer to in respect of this matter is the case of Pendakwa Mahkamah Kadi Perak v. Jaffery & Hasliza JH (1991) 105. Based on Hamid Jusoh (op. cit.), this case is about two accused persons who were charged under section 155(2) & (3) of the Perak Administration of Islamic Law Enactment 1965 due to the commission of zina for several times which subsequently led to the woman being pregnant despite having not married with the man. The Court had convicted the two accused persons for the offence of zina relying on circumstantial evidence, i.e. the pregnancy of the woman out of wedlock. And the accused persons were liable for ta’zir punishment i.e. a fine of RM 1,000 or in default, a year of imprisonment.

     

    NON-HUDUD CASE

    In a reported non-hudud case involving the verification of bequest called Nik Salma Zaidah binti Haji Wan Zaid lwn. Nik Hasnah binti Nik Din & Seorang Lagi (2002) 15 JH(II)  143 at 147, the Applicant claimed that the house that she lives in is a bequest made by her step father before he died. In deciding the case, the Court, inter alia considered the issue of an approval letter to build the house and the act of the Appellant remaining in the house for about 8 years without being disturbed, as qarinah to prove the authenticity of the bequest.

     

    CONCLUSION

    To conclude, generally, qarinah is accepted as a means of proof in both hudud and non-hudud cases in the context of the Malaysian Syariah Courts, thus far. However, its applicability needs to be construed based on the facts of each individual case, as qarinah might not be sustainable in proving a case when for instance, the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case based on qarinah, as in the case of Pendakwa Syarie lwn. Mahadi dan Noridah (1998) 12 JH(I) 55, whereby the qarinah relied upon was in the form of act i.e. “the act of accused who ran away from being arrested as well as the car being used by the accused”, as pointed out by Hamid Jusoh. Plus, as highlighted by Ahmad ‘Abdul Mun’im Al-Bahai, only qarinah that is strong would be acceptable as a basis to prove a case.

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